You’ll need to go back over a quarter century to the last era of motorcycling when small, beginner friendly motorcycles were this popular.Kawasaki’s Ninja 250 is the right bike at the right time. The Ninja’s 2008 restyling has made it a good looking to boot, with power to go beyond A to B.
There are so many reasons for today’s unprecedented hype in the 250cc sportbike class. Gas prices are soaring, the recession is shadowing over us, more great websites out there educating new riders on the importance of starting small. Whatever the case, the 250cc market is hot.
The reality is to update the baby Ninja while keeping a low price point,Kawasakicut a few corners. The previous generation ZZR-250’s aluminum frame was replaced with a steel frame.Kawasakiopted not to bring a fuel-injected Ninja 250R toNorth America. Horsepower is down a few ponies from the previous generation. Despite on paper differences and shortcomings versus the ZZR the new 250R still has plenty going for it on the road, and that’s where it counts.
The redesigned Kawasaki Ninja 250R looks a lot like its bigger siblings, but has narrow, low seat height, comfortable standard ergonomics, with fair wind protection. In other words, the Ninja is a nice all around machine for commuting.
The real concern for people looking at a 250cc motorcycle is power, and the Ninja 250R does fine. The average sized rider can comfortably hold 120 km/hr on the highway with power to spare, pushing the bike to 150 km/hr, although acceleration notices a sharp decrease after 135 km/hr, much like the similarly powered 250cc KYMCO Venox cruiser.
The flipside is that you’ll need to keep those revs high. The Ninja is particularly weak on the low end and mid range power doesn’t kick in until 7,000 RPM. Performance can be greatly improved with Stage 2 kitting. That is, throwing in a K&N Performance Air Filter, DynoJet 2 jet kits, and a Yoshimura exhaust we saw great low end and midrange performance gains as the Ninja 250R comes too lean fromKawasaki’s factory, likely to comply with North American EPA regulations. The parts for this modification are over $500 in Canada, plus the cost of labor, but this modification is well worth it to the new or veteran motorcyclist looking to keep his Ninja an extra season few seasons and wanting just a touch more power and sound.
More on those RPMs, despite working hard, the bike never seems overly buzzy. The Ninja’s light weight and smoothness is complete through the bike, again, much like the KYMCO Venox I’ve happily put over 30,000 km on. The Ninja feels as though it benefits from a rear disk brake over the Venox, as well as having a sixth gear, however both bikes remain the only 250cc motorcycles on the market that we recommend, even over the Honda CBR-250R, Hyosung GT-250R, and Suzuki’s TU-250.
- Readily available and beginner friendy
- Surprising performance and highway capability for a little parallel twin
- Good resale value
- New “real sportbike” look
- Bike won’t budge below 3,000 RPM in stock form
- May still leave people in need of a larger commuter wanting more bike
- May not be low enough for shorter riders
- Step backwards from the previous Kawasaki Ninja ZZR-250 generation
- Peak torque too high up the powerband
You may also be interested in our Kawasaki Ninja 300R review.
Engine – 4 valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams, liquid cooled 249cc parallel twin
Carbs – 2 x 30 mm carburetor
Compression – 11.6:1
Horsepower – 32 hp @ 11,000 RPM
Torque – 16 ft/lb. @ 10,000 RPM
Transmission – 6 speed
Drive Mechanism – Chain drive
RPM @ 100 km/hr – ~ 7,400 RPM
Fuel Consumption – 4.3 litres / 100 km
Miles on Tank – 418 km
Top Speed – 158 km/hr
¼ Mile Speed – 14.9 @ 137 km/hr